GDC 2008

GDC 2008: The Awards

Russ Pitts | 21 Feb 2008 14:45
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I almost asked for my money back. Then I remembered I hadn't paid to get in, and, in fact, had been given a juicy "all access" pass, and settled in for the show. Although I was clearly being robbed. Clearly.

For starters, there are few things as bizarre and creepy as internet fame. One of them, however, is being near creepy internet fame. Yahtzee was sitting at our table, which naturally made us the envy of everyone at every other table, so they attempted to right this cosmic wrong by asking to shake his hand all night. Practically all night there were at least one or two people lurking in the background, waiting for their chance to rush him and stick out their hand. Some even asked for autographs.

If you've never been near that kind of fame, I can't recommend it. Not because it's jealousy-inducing (although it is) but because it's just plain odd. He's not quite famous enough to have an entourage of bodyguards (he even had trouble checking in to his hotel), but he's famous enough that practically everyone at the conference knows who he is without asking. And then barges over to shake his hand.

I have a lot of respect for certain celebrities, and if we happened to be sharing a cab, or were seated near each other in a restaurant, I might say hello, but I don't know of anyone whose hand I would cross a room to shake. Perhaps I'm out of touch, and I'm definitely not that famous, so who really cares what I have to say on that?

In any case, Yahtzee is that famous, and so his hands were busy being shaken for most of the night. But that's not why I wanted my money back.

Turns out the Game Developers' Choice Awards were to be preceded by the Independent Game Festival Awards, and no one had told me. I'd come to see how many awards BioShock had won, not to watch people I hadn't heard of accept awards for games I'd never played. I was outraged, witty host and humorous videos be damned.

But then something strange happened: I started to see in the independent games being recognized, bits of the mainstream games they could some day become. Portal, after all, had started life not too long ago as an entrant in the IGF, and was now up for Game of the Year at the upscale version, the Choice Awards.

A few awards in, I decided to relax an play along. A few awards after that I was making mental notes to check some of these games out the next time I was near a computer.

World of Goo, for example. A physics-based puzzle game featuring cute, amorphous blobs that looked like the most fun one could have with a mouse without having to close the blinds. Developers 2D Boy won two awards, Technical Excellence and Design Innovation, and unlike at the grown up awards ceremony, IGF awards come with cash prizes.

The big award went to Crayon Physics, a game where you literally draw in crayon to solve puzzles. The creator's speech was one of the shortest of the night, on either side of the commercial divide. "I want to thank my parents for letting me draw in crayon," he said, melting the hearts of every girl in the room. Dude, if you're not getting lucky tonight, it's your own fault.

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